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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) program to consolidate and automate its flight service stations, focusing on: (1) whether the new automated system is performing all FAA-required services and the quality of those services; (2) the effect of technical problems experienced at the automated stations; and (3) the effect of staff constraints on automated operations.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Transportation 1. The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to not further reduce the flight service specialist work force until after the flight service stations are closed and performance standards and staffing levels can be developed for the automated stations.
Closed - Implemented
Although FAA has not completed consolidation or its staffing standards, the general intent of this recommendation is being met. Flight service station staffing has not been reduced significantly since consolidation began and, in fact, will increase slightly next year.
Department of Transportation 2. The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to ensure that the automated weather observing systems, acquired to replace contracted weather observers for areas formerly served by stations that have been closed, meet all FAA weather forecasting operational requirements.
Closed - Implemented
FAA Advisory Circular 150/5220-16, Automated Weather Observing Systems for Non-Federal Applications, contains all the requirements for weather forecasting. FAA is ensuring that actions meet weather forecasting operational requirements. FAA took this action on its own, not because GAO recommended it.

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